Marsha Chartrand

Rockin’ it all over Manchester

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There are “Go Blue” rocks and there are Spartan rocks as well!

This smiling face brightens the day just by looking at you!

This rock may have been inspired by the children’s book,”The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

A patriotic-themed rock found on Memorial Day.

This tree rock was hidden along the Shared Use Trail, but has now been relocated by a subsequent finder!

In response to the recent influx of negative emotions flooding social media, one Manchester mother has found a simple way to send silent messages of kindness  and joy throughout the community.

Amy Raus, a teacher and mother to a three-year-old, says she has a definite aversion to discussing politics, but in the aftermath of last fall’s presidential election and the occasionally hateful climate on social media, she was still looking for a way to share some positive activity in Manchester. In Dexter, where Amy teaches, there is a group called “Dexter Rocks,” that provides a creative outlet and an opportunity to build community by simply hiding painted rocks around the town.

She determined to bring the idea to Manchester. “In a sense, hiding rocks with friendly messages and general kindness is my way of pushing back,” she explains. “It’s a tiny action, but heartfelt.”

“This is a way to spread joy and brighten people’s day. (It) is a community-building group meant to inspire creativity in all ages and energize people to explore the beautiful area we live in. As a high school teacher, I see daily how the simplest gestures or greetings can change a person’s course for the day … or longer. This project seemed like the perfect way to keep spreading a little kindness and cheer. Not to mention, we have some incredibly talented folks and enthusiastic youth in this town!”

The rules of the game, as published on the local Facebook Page, are simple:

*The goal is to get lots of people all across our community painting so that there are lots of rocks to be found, as well as get people outside and looking at the beautiful world around them. You might find yourself rediscovering parts of our community you haven’t appreciated in a while. Get out and ENJOY yourself!

*Please be careful where you hide your rocks so that they don’t cause any damage to property (i.e. Don’t hide in the grass where it can damage a lawn mower or hurt someone). Don’t take rocks from private property or from someone’s landscaping. Don’t trespass.

*You are encouraged to get together in groups for painting parties to make this even more fun! Girl Scout activity? Birthday party activity? BBQ? Child care activity? Adults and a bottle of wine activity?

*Play nice!

Participants are encouraged to add friends to the group who would be interested in doing this and share the link to the “Manchester Rocks” group on their personal Facebook pages.

The idea is to paint a small rock in a design of your own choosing, hide it somewhere it can be seen by others, and then–find the rocks that others have hidden! Once you have found a rock, re-hiding is suggested, or painting others to “replace” any you feel moved to keep.

As more people are getting involved in the rock-painting projects–Scout troops, day cares, and families–the Facebook page is becoming more active. Photos are posted almost daily of rocks that have been painted and are ready to be hidden, as well as those that are found around town. Kids and adults alike love looking for the rocks and everyone seems to enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Amy says that while this sort of “scavenger hunt” is not unique to Dexter and Manchester, it’s spreading around the country mostly by word of mouth and social media. And while it should at least be a great diversion for upcoming summer vacation, she’d love to see it continue, into winter and beyond! “As long as people are enjoying it,” she says. “I’d love for people to post pictures of their finds!”

“It’s such a simple thing,” she adds. “Just keep finding and enjoying!”


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